A Green Double Take

My Cardinals just blew another late inning lead for the loss.  Rather than sit her and seethe through the post game excuses, decided to simply turn off the source of my frustration and immerse myself in another blog post.  Bring a bit of calm to my night and productivity at the same moment – can’t beat that… well you could if those damn Cardinals could keep it together… calming breadth, serenity now, puppies… okay, back under control.  Thought I’d simply keep the theme from the last post going and feature another Heron family member.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Today’s effort is a combination post consisting of the same species, at the same spot, but a year apart.  These first few shots were taken a little less than 6 months ago at the South Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center.   The Green Heron is not a new bird on my list – in fact it was featured all the way back in September 2012 (link here).  Ironically the specimen back in 2012 was just down the road from our house in a state park.  Seems like a bit of an overkill to drive all the way down to the tip of Texas to see the same species hehehe.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Hit the return to see a few more shots of the Green Heron

spacer

Keep Them Doggies Movin’, Rawhide

First off, wanted to extend best wishes to fellow blogger Paula who is paddling her way through some rough patches at the moment.  Stay Strong!

Ever have one of those things that seems to always be just out of reach.  Maybe it’s a running distance that is just beyond a wall you keep hitting, perhaps a butterfly that seems to be everyplace you are not, or, as in my case, it’s a bird that you just can’t get in the tin for one reason or another.  If so, I feel your pain.  Don’t get down, think of it as a challenge, keep working it and eventually things will fall into place.

Cattle Egret shot at Rockport, Texas in December 2017

This happened with my first nemesis bird, the Hooded Merganser (link here).  That duck was constantly getting reported on various bird tracking sites all around me … and by around, I mean never where I was.  Increasing the frustration is Ron already had this checked on his list.  If you recall, Ron and I recently went after a Ross’ Goose and came up empty.  Surprise, surprise, we found the Hoodie instead.  This unexpected scenario played out on our trip down the Texas Gulf Coast over our recent Christmas holiday.

Cattle Egret shot at Rockport, Texas in December 2017

Hit the jump to find out more about this cute little bird

spacer

Rednosed Reedbird

Welcome to race day eve.  Tomorrow the alarm will ring at 4:45am to signal the start of another day of racing.  Fortunately, this one is a slight downgrade from the half to a 15K – now, for the record, it is the toughest 15K in Illinois thanks in part to a repeat loop with a wicked hill.  That doesn’t concern me much thanks to a lot of hill work during training, but what does concern me is that two word weather term HEAT INDEX.  Earlier this week the night temps dropped into the high sixties.  No luck keeping that around.  The heat index is supposed to get around 105F.  Wish me luck, ever since the heat stroke episode, my internal thermostat has been very touchy.  Always helps me to relax to sit down and get a post out.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Unlike the  bulk of the posts lately (more like this year), the featured waterbird is not a new bird for my list.  Nope, they were previously featured not once, but twice here already (link here and here).  Not to mention, every time I see this bird the first thing that pops into my head is the image of my brother Ron trying to get into a good position to get a picture of one only to end up falling halfway down a large embankment and rolling to the bottom.  Think my laughter ended up scaring the bird and for all that work, nothing to show in the tin – although a memory to last a lifetime.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to read more about this red nosed bird (apparently heavy drinkers ha)

spacer

Little Miss Green

Sometimes adversity results in finding yourself balled up on the floor trying to keep your eyes from floating out of their sockets (so people tell me).  Of course, then there are difficult situations that turn out to be opportunities in disguise.  Now the latter I have experienced multiple times and that includes this week!  I’ve mentioned recently that my days and nights are packed at the moment with work and training devouring the few chances I have to get my posts out.  The month was churning away and my quota counter wasn’t moving nearly fast enough.  Decided to forego some sleep last night and get back into the digital darkroom and work some images up.  At least with the most time consuming part out of the way, I could find smaller chunks of time to get something out there for you.  While combing through my image cache, a pleasant surprise greeted me.

Green Kingfisher encountered at South Padre Island Nature and Bird Viewing Center, Texas in December 2017

Turns out I had somehow overlooked a number of additional discoveries on our recent Texas trip over the Christmas holidays.  One of those discoveries was this beautiful specimen.  I think one of the brain fog contributing factors was my Audubon Chapter speech earlier in the year.  Most of my blog posts were in preparation for that talk.  Must have gotten confused thinking the work up of images for that presentation had already been posted here.  A quick search of the blog came up empty – long story short(er), this cool looking Green Kingfisher was inadvertently skipped.   So glad this was found, this Kingfisher is one of my favorite finds from the trip to South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center.

Green Kingfisher encountered at South Padre Island Nature and Bird Viewing Center, Texas in December 2017

spacer

One Goose, Two Goose, 10,000 Geese

I’m finally back!  Been struggling to get time to feed the blog thanks to an incredibly busy schedule.  When I am not trying to keep the acreage from getting too far out of control I’m out pounding the asphalt and now dirt trails to prepare for fast approaching races – in between that is honey-do’s about a mile long.  Luckily was able to give my other blog a bit of love and posted some recollections of recent races and readings.  More disappointing is how far I’ve fallen behind in reading the outputs of my fellow blogging friends.  If there was only a way to write and read posts while out on training runs – ha.  In an effort to try and right this ship, thought tonight’s post will focus on 10’s of thousands of these…

Snow Geese massing at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas in January 2018

Well, admittedly, that shot doesn’t really give the full effect of the experience.  It does give a better view of what made up this huge flock of birds we saw on our trip down to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge along the Texas Gulf Coast over Christmas break 2017.  If you recall, our first unique encounter this year at Anahuac was the Zebra (link here).  Kind of hard to really top a creature more commonly seen at the Serengeti National Park than off the Gulf of Texas.  However, a close second had to be witnessing one of the largest massing of birds I’ve ever encountered.  Apparently those three Snow Geese above have a VERY large number of friends and relatives who flew in for the holidays.

Snow Geese massing at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas in January 2018

spacer

A Better Man than Me

Left Standing by Mason WellsIt may not seem like I have been reading a lot purely based on my blog output as of late.  Truth is, I have been reading a lot, just having troubles finding time to actually write about it.  There are actually three books that have already been read just  sitting on my desk waiting for me to take the time to write up a recollection.  That isn’t even including the featured book for today’s post.  The main reason this one is ready is thanks to it being a dog show weekend giving me some down time to write up the takeaways.  At this rate, thinking the others might make it sometime around, oh well, let’s go with October.  Featured today is a book Left Standing: The Miraculous Story of How Mason Wells’s Faith Survived the Boston, Paris and Brussels Terror Attacks by Mason Wells, Tyler Beddoes and Billy Hallowell.  It is a bit of a departure for me.  Although it is a book that focuses on the evils that exist in the world.  Okay, that part isn’t the departure point, but this read was about how faith allowed Mason Wells to come to terms with being either near or directly involved with three terror attacks – the Boston Marathon bombing, the Paris terror attack and in the middle of the Brussels airport bombing.  Think I heard about it from an interview Hannity did with the author.  Sounded interesting enough to spend some time with it (around 160 large spaced pages made for a quick two night read).  From a summary perspective it had a bit more on the faith element and less on the terror survival aspect that I would have preferred.  From a survival perspective, he was technically at or near the Boston and the Paris attacks, but surviving feels like a stretch.  Now, the Brussell’s airport, no doubt about it.  He was severely maimed in that ordeal being at the heart of the blast while standing in the check-in line.  This left him severely injured requiring seven surgeries, three hundred stitches, two hundred staples and several skin bandage changes   All of this and he was still able to deliver on his childhood dream of entering the Naval Academy and serving his country.  Always admire individuals who overcome adversity and reach their goals (one of the reasons this book sounded intriguing).  Turns out Mason was at this tragedy while on his missionary work for his Mormon faith.  Through all these trails, Mason believed his God had a plan for him and he accepted and made the decision difficult decision to follow it.  The stunning aspect, it is his faith that allowed him to forgive those that perpetrated these acts of barbarianism.  For this I’ve determined that Mason is truly a better man than I.  If there is one fault that I readily admit to, it’s my lack of compassion for those that want to initiate harm upon others.  My “bad list” are well known by those that know me – make it on that list and you might be able to make amends to get off, but you will never be forgotten.  Hard pressed to believe that turning the other cheek is the appropriate response when it comes to terror.  There are instances when you just need to cut the cancer out.

Hit the jump for my takeaways.

spacer

Clap So I Can See You

A little late getting this published, so first off, wanted to extend my appreciation for the families that have served (those in theater and those that keep the home going so they can focus on their task at hand) and to those that will choose to protect this great country and her values abroad in spite of those that continue to tear it down from the inside.  To those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, there are no words sufficient to thank beyond you will never be forgotten

Now back to your regularly scheduled content.

Good news, I survived my “new endeavor” in running.  I still need to get my recollection post out (on my other blog), but as a quick summary I decided to add more challenge to my running passion and decided to move into trail racing.  Probably wouldn’t recommend to others to start out in this version of the sport with a half marathon… in a hilly reservoir… with technical sections … and creek crossings.  That run is only second to my marathon run in terms of toughness.  It also happens to be one of a very few races I had a smile on the entire time.  Amazing and needless to say, totally hooked – a round of claps for trails!

Clapper Rail at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, Texas in December 2017\

Well, actually more like a Clapper – and not the trail kind – rather the Rail kind.  This rather large bird is the latest to bear the check mark on my birding list.  We came upon this specimen on our birding trip to South Padre Island over the holiday break last December.  The South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center has easily become one of my favorite birding locations adding new birds to my list every time we make it down there.  If you have spent any time at all on my Wildlife Blog you already know how amazingly productive that location is thanks to an extensive boardwalk that allows access to the marshes without disturbing the birds.  This one was found in nearly the same location where we spotted the Virginia Rail on a previous visit (link here).

Clapper Rail at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, Texas in December 2017

Hit the jump to read more about this interesting bird!

spacer

One More for Two More

It has been a while since I’ve been nearing the end of the month and I still had an open slot in the blog quota.  Luckily I still have plenty of fodder to pull from.  Probably need to start considering processing more images from the backlog.  My Texas queue is starting to run thin (imagine that).  In the meantime, thought I would continue to show consideration for the non-birders out there and follow up my last running post with the companion piece.  As mentioned in that last post, the Illinois Marathon has options for a two run event – the Friday night 5K (from last post) and the following Saturday morning run.  You can choose your poison on the second run.  I tackled the full marathon a few years back (felt that one for sure), but they have a 10K and a half to round out the options.  My poison this year was the I-Challenge Half.
Illini Marathon April 2018 - I-Challenge HalfThis year, the race coordinators introduced the long sleeve tech shirt.  Definitely more appropriate seeing as how this race is always wet and cold.  Not sure I am a fan of the logo or the color this year, however, the medals are OUTSTANDING.    Not only are they solid/heavy, they are always very artistic.  Think this was the 10th anniversary of this race.
Illini Marathon April 2018 - I-Challenge Half

Hit the jump to get the highlights of the event.

spacer

Racing ’18

Thinking by now my bird averse readers are absolutely fed up with all the bird posts this month.. hell, this year.  Admittedly, I’ve definitely narrowed my post themes significantly and for that I apologize – at least to those of you who prefer your birds on a plate with garnish and a fine wine.  To my credit, I have thrown in a few wildlife posts that didn’t have wings along with a few recollections.  To help right the ship, let’s give some respect to my Alma Mater.

Illinois Marathon I-Challenge Half 5K April 2018

Unfortunately, we’ve been subjected to some pretty horrific sporting years as of late.  For the record, I am withholding all donations to the U of I (and my ticket purchases)  until they get their sports straightened out – p a t h e t i c.  However, I must give complete kudos to the race coordinators for the annual Illinois Marathon.

Illinois Marathon I-Challenge Half 5K April 2018

Hit the jump to read more about the race!

spacer

Bird Punk

Starting to get those thoughts of doubt, those self-defeating introspections that build over the week heading into race day.  Being only a night from toeing the starting line, those inner voices are starting to concern me – did I train enough, are those dull body aches something to be concerned about, is it really going to be that hot, Linda will not be there – what happens if I get hurt and on and on.  Something to be said about the numbing effects of repetition – since this happens so regularly, I eventually get past it and remind myself that a) I chose to do this and b) I train really hard for these very days.  Wait, that isn’t me reminding me of that, it’s Linda when she gets tired of hearing me whine about it hehehe,.  Truth is, there is a bit of extra jitters on this one.  If you remember, I previously mentioned I signed up for “a new endeavor” in the realm of self-inflicted pain – that reality is tomorrow. Will have to let you know how it goes in a future post … if by some miracle I survive.

To help get those nerves in check, thought I’d crank out a post.  What to post on, hmmmm, oh wait.. no…well, awwwwwwe yes, let’s go with another new bird from our recent trip to the Rio Grande Valley region.  Bet that caught you totally off guard – not!  Enough with the delay, let’s get to the bird..

Pyrrhuloxia found at Harlingen Thicket World Birding Center, Harlingen Texas in January 2018

Hit the jump to find out what this punked up bird is.

spacer